Strategies to make your store visible no matter where you’re working
By Jim Raposa
Truck wraps, logo uniforms…pool companies have used these and other means to brand and promote their businesses for years. Here, a group of success-minded retailers offers six tested concepts that keep them visible and produce revenue.
No. 6: Direct Marketing
Brooke Rossi, retail general manager at Wilmington, Illinois-based DesRochers Backyard Pools & Spa stores, makes use of her service crew. “Each of our techs has business cards they give to customers on service calls,” she says. “When the customer brings the business card back into the store, we offer a discount on in-store purchases.” While some companies constantly spend money looking for new customers, Rossi says, “Our current customers are the best and most cost-effective source of business and referrals, so we strive to find ways to repeatedly get them back into our stores.” A little retail proselytizing can turn current customers into hyperbuyers.
No. 5: The Installation Spike Sign
Can you get more old school than this? Joe Privett, co-owner of San Juan Pools & Spas in Pekin, Illinois, proudly says no. “We ask the customer if we can put a spike sign on their front yard for 30 days, then they return the sign for a $50 in-store credit,” Privett says An important takeaway on this or similar programs is that it’s your business and your math. Make the offer work for you, and make it enticing for the customer.
No. 4: Animated Store Signage
Tom Junck at Combined Pool and Spa in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, recently added a Daktronics sign to the front of his store. The key to success with these signs is to keep your message fresh. “Every Monday morning, we change the offers on that sign,” Junck says. “We use it to promote smaller products like chemicals and services we offer. We also use graphics to capture attention. People do come in because of what they saw on that sign.”
No. 3: Referral Program
One of the most overlooked methods of obtaining business: asking a satisfied customer for a referral. Wendy Boyer, sales manager at Evergreen Spa and Saunas in Mishawaka, Indiana, engages her customers in conversation to learn about their lifestyle and associations. “The easiest way to get referrals is to remember a customer’s name and when they come in for water care products, talk with them about their spa, how they use it, their enjoyment of it. Do people they associate with know they just purchased a hot tub?” Boyer says. “Then I let them know about our referral program, where we reward them with an in-store gift certificate if someone they know comes into the store. It works if you ask.”
No. 2: Choose the Right Advertising Media
Your message is as important as the medium. Mike Beani of American Pools and Spas near Allentown, Pennsylvania, closely tracks his media investment. “We put a tremendous amount of money into Internet marketing, strictly for customers to learn what we’re about, our offers and price point,” Beani says. “We also use the local newspaper; true, it draws an older client than the Internet, about 35 to 55 years old. [But] the customer response to print, for me, is outstanding.”
No. 1: Go Where the People Are
Dan Binner of Binner Pools Spas and Fireplaces in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin, has built a successful business over 38 years by attending area events. “If there’s an Oktoberfest celebration, we go to that,” Binner says. “If there’s a chili fest, we’re there. There’s a huge annual event here in Fon du Lac called Fondue Fest; we go to that. I’ve even thought about going to car shows and horse shows.” Binner goes where people who can afford the product are. He travels light, with only a table, a chair and a laptop computer. Games of chance with a prize wheel draw crowds to your booth. “Not everyone will give you their information for follow-up,” he says. “The ones who do are more likely ready to buy.”